'Earthquake Lady' Lucy Jones is the next Wayne Morse Chair

Seismologist Lucy Jones

Anyone who tuned into any coverage of the California earthquakes this past summer probably heard or saw seismologist Lucy Jones.

Known as the "Earthquake Lady," Jones is a natural disaster scientist with a mission to increase the ability of communities to adapt and be resilient in the face of dynamic changes to the world around them. Jones, who serves as a research associate at Caltech's seismological laboratory, will be in residence at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics in October as the Wayne Morse Chair.

She will give a public lecture on disaster resilience in Eugene on Oct. 15 and a training on earthquake preparedness for University of Oregon students, faculty members and staff  Oct. 17 as part of the internationally observed Great ShakeOut, which she designed.

Other events include a public talk on the looming Cascadia earthquake at UO Portland on Oct. 22 and an event on climate change and art during which she will perform her original composition for viola da gamba titled “In Nomine Terra Calens,” or “In the Name of a Warming Earth.” It addresses climate change between 1880 and 2017 by allowing audiences to hear the earth’s rising temperatures over the past 139 years.

During Jones' time at UO she also will meet with local officials on disaster preparedness issues, give a talk at the City Club of Eugene, co-teach an environmental studies class, and speak with a variety of other classes and student groups. 

"Lucy Jones is a Herculean figure in earthquake science and disaster preparedness and we are eager to work with her to promote science communication and earthquake resilience in the Pacific Northwest,” said UO earth science professor Amanda Thomas. 

In addition to her position at Caltech, Jones also is the founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society and recently completed 33 years of federal service with the U.S. Geological Survey. Among other achievements, she led the creation of a national science strategy for all the natural hazards studied by the USGS to promote the science that would better prepare the nation for future natural hazards.

In her recent book, “The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them),” Jones offers both a look at how natural disasters have affected the course of history and how to prepare for them.

Jones' visit kicks off the Wayne Morse Center's 2019-21 theme, Science, Policy, and the Public. In the first year of the theme, the center is focusing on natural disasters and resilience, while the second year will explore genetic technologies and the questions they raise about identity, equality and ethics.

"The Wayne Morse Center chose to focus on science for this theme because it's increasingly clear that there's a disconnect between what scientists are learning, what policymakers are doing and what the public understands," said Wayne Morse Center co-director Rebecca Flynn. 

By Abbie Stillie, Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics